Consumer GuidesWalls & Ceilings

Techniques for Wall Covering Removal

What kind of paper?: Uncoated wallpaper soaks up strippers readily. Or it can be soaked off the wall, paste and all, using hot water applied with a large sponge. This method, though messy, is simple and effective. But because the backing and paste stay on the wall, pros use hot water or a stripper.

Professionally installed wallpaper frequently is tougher to remove than homeowner-hung paper. That’s because pros, often leery of factory-installed pastes, use unpasted papers and apply adhesive liberally, or they add an activator to prepasted versions to improve adhesion. Either way, they have to work a little harder to remove paper put up by a fellow pro.

Vinyl-coated wallpapers – several layers of old paper, painted-over paper or a lightweight paper that can’t be pulled off – are even trickier. Water or stripper can’t penetrate these surfaces and attack the adhesive. The surface of the paper has to be scored – without carving up the wall – to expose the adhesive.

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